What Does One Plus Three Equal?

Hint:  It’s not “four”.

Efficiency of Language

I once had a boss who, when asked “Does the customer want that in red or blue?” would launch into a 5-minute explanation of all the choices leading up to the final decision.  That’s five minutes wasted–a one-word answer would have been sufficient.   That same boss would regularly complain that they didn’t have enough time in the day to do everything they needed to.

Part of running an efficient business is being efficient with your time.  One of the biggest ways you can improve your use of time is to know when to shut up.  Or, to be more precise: learn to be concise.


When coaching people on how to improve their chances in a job interview,  I give them a simple rule of thumb:  1+3.   When asked a question, reply with one word (or short phrase), followed by no more than 3 sentences of explanation.  For example:

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face in business?

A: Communication.  I need to understand my customers and present myself to them in an appropriate way.  In a diverse marketplace, that can be tricky.


Q: How long until you can deliver my product?

A: 3 days.  Once we have final approval from you, we can start immediately, and have it to your home within 3 business days.

This simple technique saves you time, saves your customer time, and makes you look more confident and knowledgeable.   And that’s good for business.

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